Everyday Carry: How to pick the best pocket pen

If you have a passing "ah ha!" thought, are trying to organize your to-do's, get an emergency phone call, or just get bored, having the ability to write something down at a moment's notice is important. A writing utensil on your person is foundational to an Intentional EDC. Let's look at how you can pick the best pen for pocket carry.
variety of edc pocket pens

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variety of pens in a karas kustoms pen organizer

A pen is one of our top 5 items every man should carry in his pockets every day. It’s an essential part of being prepared and having the tools you need to be intentional in your everyday life.

Don’t believe us? We’ve talked before about why it’s so important to have both a paper and writing instrument as part of your EDC, and we’ve also shared tips on how to pick the best pocket notebook.

Now, let’s explore how to pick the best pen for everyday carry.

1. Decide where you’ll carry it

fisher space pen bullet pen in raw brass

Heavily influenced by what you’re wearing, the weather for the day, the type of clothing and your personal preferences, deciding where you’ll carry your pen is one of the most basic, yet important decisions. Options include:

  1. Pants pocket
  2. Shirt pocket
  3. Clipped on your shirt
  4. On your keychain

Pants pocket

Especially if you’re new to being intentional about what you carry, having a pen in your pants pocket is a good way to start if you’ve never carried one as part of your Primary EDC. You already carry your keys, phone, pocket knife, etc. in your pockets, so adding a pocket-friendly pen is an easy addition.

Recommendations:

  • CountyComm Embassy EDC Pen: At 5.25″ long, the Embassy Pen is a great medium-size pen that works well for guys with bigger hands. With a deep-machined knurled grip, you can use it during poor conditions or with heavy gloves.
  • Hinderer Knives Aluminum Hard Coat Investigator Pen: At only 4.25″ long, the Hinderer Investigator Pen has strategically placed grooves, which allow for a comfortable hold, despite its size.
  • Fisher Space Pen Bullet Pen: The cap extends the pen to full size, the rounded edges make it comfortable to carry, and it’s only 3.75″ long closed. With so many options to choose from, it’s easy to see why the Bullet Pen is a best seller when looking for a pocket-friendly EDC pen. 

Shirt pocket

For a guy that uses a pen often throughout the day, a shirt pocket carry gives you immediate access. You’ll want it to be hefty enough to be comfortable with heavy use, but lightweight enough that it doesn’t weigh you down and become annoying. 

Recommendations:

  • Rite in the Rain All-Metal Clicker Pen: Durable, a non-slippery surface, lightweight enough not to weigh your shirt down, but big enough to be used for longer-term use, the All-Metal Clicker Pen is an inexpensive refillable pen. Being a clicky pen, it makes for grabbing it one-handed easy.
  • KarasKustoms RENDER K: Machined in Mesa, AZ, the RENDER K is a great option for shirt pocket carry because of its cap. If you’ve experienced ink getting onto the pocket of your shirt, the RENDER K can solve the problem, and the cap only takes 1.5 revolutions to get off. Use a variety of ink refills to really make it yours.

Clipped on your shirt

If you don’t have a pants pocket or you find pants carry too bulky, try clipping your pen just above one of the top buttons on your shirt.

In a non-permissive environment where the pen is your defense tool, a center placement leaves it accessible for both hands.

Recommendations:

  • KarasKustoms RETRAKT, Aluminum: One of our favorites to carry clipped on a shirt, the lightweight Aluminum RETRAKT is only 1.0 ounce. It takes many, many different inks, so you can have your ink AND have a durable, lightweight pen. The solid-metal body makes it a good pen for self defense. If you’re looking for something heavier, it also comes in Copper and Brass.
  • Fisher Space Pen Stowaway: If you’re looking for one of the smallest pens we have, the Stowaway is only 4″ long and weighs an astounding 0.2 ounces. The clip can securely attach to your shirt without weighing it down.

On your keychain

A keychain pen is a great place to keep your back-up option and tends to be a go-to place for women. Locating keys on a keychain can be much easier than digging around for a pen inside a purse. 

Carrying a pen on a keychain can also simplify your EDC, especially when wearing thinner or lighter-weight clothing during the summer.

Recommendation:

  • TEC Accessories PicoPen: Available in standard Stainless Steel, Titanium, or Bronze, the PicoPen is small and lightweight. It uses a strong magnet to stay attached to your keychain, making it easy to take on and off.

2. Decide the type of ink

variety of pen refills

Finding the right ink type usually comes through trial and error. Ink options are seemingly infinite, especially if you carry a pen that allows for various refills.  It’s completely about personal preference, what size of refill your pen can hold, and the environment that you’ll need to be using your pen in, etc. Options include: 

  • Fountain
  • Liquid ink rollerball
  • Gel in rollerball

Fountain

A traditional ink type that adds personality and history to your EDC, a fountain pen has a character to it that you can’t find in more modern counterparts. Ink is purchased as a bottle, not a cartridge.

Ballpoint

Ballpoint ink is a great go-to option. They write well on most services, won’t dry out, and the ink dries quickly once you use it. 

Recommendations:

Liquid ink rollerball

Invented in 1963 by the Japanese, a rollerball uses a liquid ink similar to a fountain pen but is combined with the convenience of a ballpoint pen.

Recommendations:

  • SCHMIDT 5888: German-made, high-quality refill designed to provide easy handling and smooth gliding over paper. These refills are long-lasting and have an extended shelf life

Felt tip

Recommendations:

  • SCHMIDT 6040: A German-made, reservoir based felt-tipped refill designed to provide easy handling and smooth gliding over paper. These refills are long-lasting and have a durable felt tip and it provides a solid line

Gel ink rollerball

Smooth, easy to write with, and makes you more secure from identity theft (always use gel pens if you’re writing a check!), a gel pen is a great option. If your pen is a clicky-style pen, a gel pen can dry out faster. If you pen has a cap, a gel pen will have as long as a shelf life as it’s liquid counterparts. 

Recommendations:

  • Pilot G2 Refill: The most popular gel refill in America as it produces a consistent amount of ink on most types of paper

3. Decide the size

TT PockeTTools Keychain Pen in Aluminum, Fisher Space Pen Bullet Pen in Copper, Fisher Space Pen Stowaway, KarasKustoms Bolt Pilot G2 in Tumbled Aluminum, Rite in the Rain All-Metal Clicker Pen, and the KarasKustoms EDK in Copper.
 TT PockeTTools Keychain Pen in Aluminum, Fisher Space Pen Bullet Pen in Copper, Fisher Space Pen StowawayKarasKustoms Bolt Pilot G2 in Tumbled AluminumRite in the Rain All-Metal Clicker Pen, and the KarasKustoms EDK in Copper.

Size is a huge factor in finding a pen that works best for your setup. Just like picking your ink, finding the right size pen is up to you.

Considerations include:

  • Where you’re wanting to carry your pen
  • How you’re going to use it
  • How often you’ll use it

Where you’re wanting to carry your pen

As we talked about above, if you carry your pen in your shirt pocket, you’re going to want a much lighter metal over carrying it in your pants pocket. Having different options to support the different ways you carry your pen can give you multiple options.

How you’re going to use it

Will you be outdoors and in the elements? Will you be using gloves? Will you be next to your computer, in a controlled environment? These factors are important to your decision making process as having a durable and easy-to-hold plastic pen is very different than a heavy 7″ pen.

How often you’ll use it

It seems straight forward, but the larger your hands are, the bigger pen you’ll need UNLESS you are using a pen just as a back-up or “just in case.” But, if you plan on using your pen often, having a pen that doesn’t fatigue your hand with consistent use is important. 

Note that if you’re new to having a pen as part of your Primary EDC, you may underestimate the amount of time you will be using your pen. 

4. Decide the material

stainless steel pens, brass pens, copper pens, plastic pen, and aluminum pens.
Different materials can impact weight, feel, and function. Metal can be either lightweight or heavy, whereas some plastic could not offer replaceable ink.

Titanium

Stainless Steel

Brass

Copper

Plastic

Bronze

Aluminum

Hopefully, this helps you out as you are navigating the many choices out there. Sometimes it’s just trial and error and sometimes preferences change. I have a variety of pens I have used over the years and it seems like I still cycle through them depending on the many factors of everyday life.

What pen did you pick for your everyday carry? What were your considerations for picking it? Is there anything you’d change about it?

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